- Regarding a Talmudic passage (Brachos 55a) that describes H-Shem figuratively wearing a ring with the word emes (“truth”) imprinted on it, Rashi says one can uncover the true essence of something from its beginning, middle, and end. The letters of emes, are aleph, mem, and suf, the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, respectively. Rav Yosef Tropper applies this concept to Megillas Esther. The beginning of the sefer shows the Jews in mortal danger, while the end shows the Jews prepared to embark upon the resettlement of the end and the rebuilding of the second Temple. The middle of the sefer contains “my request and my petition.” In other words, the way to bring the Jews from being threatened to thriving is requesting (i.e. praying) to H-Shem.
- Perhaps another reason is because the last word of this verse is te’as, (“and it will be done”) and the first word of the next verse is ta’an (“and she answered”), which look somewhat alike and have a difference in gematria of 250 (tzarich iyun). Perhaps there should be a split between what Achashverosh is willing to do and what Esther wants.
- The Maharal writes that Esther’s servants fasted because, if Achashverosh accuses Esther of lacking fear for him by approaching him without being summoned, she can explain that she feared him so much, she fasted. If she is no believed, she can point to the fact that even her servants fasted.
- According to the Ohel Moshe, Esther has her maidens fast because of the Talmudic concept (Brachos 34b) that the agent of a person is the extension of that person.
- The Sefer HaChaim writes that, grammatically, atzum (“I will fast”) is in the singular, and Esther meant that she could only encourage her servants to fast.
- The Maharal writes that the idea that there is power in numbers is only relevant for men because women never lose their individual identities, as men should in gatherings like a minyan. This is why Esther uses the singular form of the word here.
יב וַיַּגִּידוּ לְמָרְדֳּכָי אֵת דִּבְרֵי אֶסְתֵּר
12. And they elaborated to Mordechai the words of Esther.
- The simplest explanation as to why the verse uses the plural “vayagidu” (“and they elaborated”) instead of the singular “vayaged” (“and he elaborated”) comes from the Malbim. He writes that Hasach simply had other messengers with whom he worked, and they are the ones who delivered this message.
- The Talmud (Megillah 15a) understands that Hasach avoided delivering this message personally because he was reluctant to deliver a negative message – in this case, a message negating Mordechai’s order. This is because of the ethical principle that, as much as possible, we try not to deliver bad news.
- The Maharal writes that Hasach did not want to go back alone in order to avoid arousing suspicion.
- The Targum writes, “Haman the wicked saw Hasach, also named Daniel, going in and out of Esther’s room. He went and he killed him. The message was delivered from Esther through Michael and Gavriel.” In this version, Haman seems suspicious of Esther’s close relationship with a Jew. Yalkut Shimoni and Talmud Yerushalmi say similarly.
- R’ Moshe Dovid Valle writes that Haman realized that Hasach was speaking to Mordechai in code. The code to which he is referring is the deeper levels of the last few verses.
- R’ Mendel Weinbach points out that we sometimes have to deliver bad news, but only if it will practically change something. Pointless bad news need not be delivered. When Rav Elyashiv was ill and his daughter, Rebbetzin Kanievsky, passed away, the current halachic authorities advised that he not be told of her passing. He was not in condition to sit shiva, and the news might have actually affected his erstwhile frail health.
- The Ginzei HaMelech wonders why, if this is indeed a negative message, did Hasach not reprove Esther? After all, there is a halacha (Rambam, Mishnah Torah, Hilchos Deyos 6:7) which says a person has the responsibility to correct those who are in the wrong. The reason is that Esther was not necessarily in the wrong. She had a legitimate halachic opinion, as follows: The Pischei Teshuva (Yoreh Deah, 252:2) writes that one is forbidden to risk one’s own life for the life of another. Therefore, Esther had a legitimate reason to avoid risking her life. However, had Esther not maintained a halachic basis for her rejection of Mordechai’s order to visit the king, Hasach would, indeed, have had reason to be reluctant in reporting this to Mordechai, based on the Talmudic dictum that we avoid sending negative messages.
- Rav Shimon Schwab asks why this is the first time Hasach felt this reticence. After all, had not this entire conversation of the last few verses (Esther 4:7-12) been negative? Rav Schwab answers that, actually, even the threatened extermination of the Jewish people is not bad news as long as they have the opportunity to do teshuva! However, the fact that Esther refuses to sacrifice for the sake of her people is negative, and this is the information Hasach does not want to deliver to Mordechai.
- Rav Henach Leibowitz quotes the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 10b) where Rav Chanina ben Chama brought the Roman Caesar Antoninus’s slave back to life to avoid having to tell him that his slave had died. Rav Leibowitz writes that this shows the extent to which we are expected to avoid delivering bad news. This is despite the fact that this idea is not explicit in the Torah, but is only implicit in the behavior of Hasach. He concludes that so, too, must we be careful to accustom ourselves to the behavioral and ethical lessons of the Torah.
- R’ Eliezer Schwartz, the rabbi of Ohev Tzedek, brings from Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik that part of the conflict between Esther and Mordechai is the oft-repeated conflict between women and men in TaNaCh. For example, he says that women and men acted differently with regard to the Golden Calf is that women see a wider view of a given situation. This is the reason for the Kli Yakar’s comment (on Bamidbar 13:2) that when H-Shem criticizes Moshe for “the men he sent,” He is implying that He would have preferred that women be sent to spy out the land of Canaan. Female spies would have seen the situation differently, and would have come up with the correct, positive interpretation of the events they witnessed. Similarly, women like Sarah in regard to Yishmael, Rivkah with Eisav, and numerous other examples show that women can see the long-range big picture, whereas men are limited to a short-term view of a situation. Here, Esther sees this situation as one that needs time to plan. Mordechai, however, seeks immediate action.